EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week, the University of Iowa softball team will feature one native Iowan and their journey to Iowa City. This week features junior Alex Rath.
I grew up 20 minutes from the University in Kalona, Iowa, and grew up cheering on the Hawkeyes. Both my parents did some coaching while I grew up and I spent 13 years watching my mom coach high school softball (little girl, running around during practices and doing the scoreboard). I went to my first state softball tournament when I was 6 months old (mid-prairie made it to state that year). My mom use to help at Iowa softball camps with (Former UI head coach) Gayle (Blevins) and one year I got a leftover shirt since I was too little to participate and got every signature.
I wasn’t pressured into ever choosing somewhere. It was my choice and I made one to go somewhere else but there was just a pit in my stomach. So, my senior year I walked into the Iowa head coaches office and said I wanted to play. I didn’t go on any visit or anything, I just knew Iowa was where I was supposed to be and haven’t looked back since. Iowa just felt like home even though I’d never been on campus or downtown till I got to college. It’s a big campus with a lot of students and locals, but it still has that small town feel family feeling, where everyone is nice and cares. Plus, I am a homebody, so being close to home helps and my grandparents will come up or my parents and take me out to eat. So it is nice getting to see them or just being a short drive home.
GROWING UP IN IOWA
Growing up in Iowa, I spent all of my summers watching softball when I was little or playing it when I got old enough. Over time the umpires knew me and I knew them since I grew up around them my whole life. Watching a few games in the summer is always fun now because I get to see them again. Once high school softball was over, I was a little confused about what to do with my summers after that. Summer softball was probably the best thing ever. In middle school, we’d have practice in the morning and then all walk over to the pool across the highway and swim. In High school, again, practice in the morning and games at night under the lights. Home field was probably the greatest thing every because we have these big trees surrounding the whole outfield like a jungle. I’m from a small town where everyone knew everyone. My school was made up of multiple little towns. If it wasn’t softball season, I was either playing basketball and after that start track & field. All these would usually overlap at some point toward the end of the season. It was fun being able to play multiple sports instead of just one and I’m glad my parents pushed me toward that. Our rule in the house is if you don’t play, you get a job. Iowa is all about having your neighbors back and being friendly. But more it is about hard work and accountability. Without those not much would be done in my small farm town.
In my first two seasons, we made it to the Big Ten Tourney the past two years but that is something to be expected. I’ve gotten a couple starts. This season and the rest of my career, I’d like to continue going to the Big Ten tourney, win it, and continue past that. I’d like to help my team enter into winning seasons. Personally, I want to be All-Big Ten. But more than anything, I just want to help Iowa get back to where it use to be.